Exploring the role and effects of diet and food components on brain health

Objectives

This Task Force brings the focus on the role of nutrition and diet for optimising brain development and maintaining brain health across lifespan.
To do so, the Task Force drives scientific knowledge on the effects of food components on brain developments and maintenance of brain functions. It also reviews the latest scientific evidence to make it available to a wider scientific community; and increases awareness of the importance of nutrition for the maintenance of brain health across the lifespan.

Impact

Since its conception in 2004, the Task Force published 14 papers, cited more than 750 times.
The series of events on ‘Nutrition for the Ageing Brain’ attracts key stakeholders and KOLs in the field since 2014.
The outputs of the task force are widely disseminated in major international conferences including 4 events in 2017 (e.g. ICN 2017), Food Matters Live 2018, at the 13th European Congress of Nutrition (FENS2019) and during the Beneficial Microbes conference in 2021.

For more detailed information, please contact Matthieu Flourakis at mflourakis@ilsieurope.be or Adam Coventry at acoventry@ilsieurope.be

Task Force Members


* Scientific Advisor

Expert Groups

4th Workshop Symposium ‘Nutrition for the Ageing Brain’, 25-26 August 2022, Lisbon, Portugal

Background & Objectives
Until now, it has not been clearly stated that specific nutrients help maintain brain function during ageing.
The Task Force embarked on this project in 2014 to review the evidence supporting how nutrients, food and diet influence brain health. Since then, the group has organised a series of events on this topic, planned every second year, which attracts multi-stakeholder experts from different countries.

The 4th edition of the symposium will be held in Lisbon (Portugal) on 25-26 June 2022 and will focus on the following themes:

  • Latest evidence in molecular mechanisms and epidemiological aspects;
  • The Gut-Brain Axis: Evidence of targeting the gut for maintaining brain health;
  • Sustainable Food Systems.

Output
The proceedings of these events are published in Peer-reviewed journals. The proceedings of the three first events (2014, 2016 and 2018) were published in Ageing Research Reviews.

Review of the Planetary Health Diet and its Impact on Brain Health Throughout Life – New

Background & Objectives
Recently a Commission for the medical journal Lancet published recommendations for a diet sustaining health and protecting the planet (Willett W. et al 2019). The aim of this diet is to be able to feed the estimated 10 billion people in 2050 with minimal environmental impact. However, little is known about the effects of such a diet on brain functions, especially on the brain development at early stages of life and in the context of the still increasing rate of cognitive decline in the ageing population (i.e. vulnerable populations).

The objectives of this activity are to:

  • Evaluate the planetary health diet’s impact on brain health and functions throughout life, specifically among more vulnerable populations;
  • Highlight the implications of the planetary health diet for proper lifelong brain health.

Output
This activity will deliver a perspective paper based on scientific evidence showing the effects of sustainable diets components (taking the EAT-Lancet planetary health diet elements as basis) on brain development and health throughout life.

Expert Group Members
To be announced soon.

Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’In collaboration with Early Nutrition and Long-Term Health; Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Prebiotics and Probiotics Task Forces

Background & Objectives
Currently, half of the literature available on the gut-brain axis is state-of-the-art reviews or correlative studies and comprehensive mechanistic insights, underlining that bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain are lacking.
In this context, several Nutrition Task Forces decided to join forces to understand where we stand today regarding the mechanisms. Together the task forces will:

  • focus on translational aspects from pre-clinical to clinical studies;
  • focus on lifespan-related changes (but not disease-related) in gut structure and function which play a role in long-term immune and brain health;
  • discuss the nutritional and lifestyle interventions with positive impact on the lifespan gut structure/function and thus on immune and brain health.

Output
A workshop held in December 2019 brought together key experts from different fields of expertise to debate and discuss on the current knowledge and data gaps.
A perspective paper on this gap analysis has been finalised and is currently submitted. This publication will be followed by a series of web-seminars to discuss the identified gaps in more details.

A Systematic Review of Plant-Based Ingredients and their Effects on Cognitive Performance

Background & Objectives

There is increasing interest in plant-based ingredients that may improve cognitive performance and prevent or reverse cognitive function decline during adulthood.

This activity aims to:

  • summarise and evaluate the current literature relating to plant-based ingredients, their constituents and cognitive performance;
  • produce a collective review of these ingredients in a systematic way;
  • critically evaluate the findings in an attempt to provide guidance on the most effective ingredients and combinations thereof.

Output

This activity is expected to deliver a systematic review on different categories of plant-based ingredients: amino acids, carotenoids, micronutrients, nitrates, omega 3’s, phospholipids, polyphenols, prebiotics.

Implications of Food Component Interactions for Research Design: Guiding Principles for Studying Effects of Multi-Component Combinations on Brain FunctionsCompleted

Background & Objectives

The effects of food on brain functions are mostly seen from nutrient combinations rather than from isolated nutrients. However, the trend is changing, and scientific interests are increasingly focusing on understanding the role of individual nutrients on brain functions. But clear guidance and evidence for a multi-component combination approach is lacking.

Thus, this activity:

  • increases awareness and understanding of the interactions of nutrients on brain functions;
  • provides clear substantiation and evidence when designing future studies aiming at investigating the impact of multi-component combinations on brain functions.

Output

The Expert Group will deliver a peer-reviewed publication that provides robust guiding principles for the study of multi-component interventions for brain health.

Expert Group Members

4th Workshop Symposium ‘Nutrition for the Ageing Brain’, 25-26 August 2022, Lisbon, Portugal – Organising Committee

Review of the Planetary Health Diet and its Impact on Brain Health Throughout Life – New

Joint Nutrition Cluster Activity on ‘Mechanistic Insights into the Gut-Brain Axis’In collaboration with Early-Life and Long-Term Health; Health Benefits Assessment of Foods; Nutrition, Immunity & Inflammation; Prebiotics and ProbioticsTask Forces

A Systematic Review of Plant-Based Ingredients and their Effects on Cognitive Performance

Implications of Food Component Interactions for Research Design: Guiding Principles for Studying Effects of Multi-Component Combinations on Brain FunctionsCompleted

Posters

Tests of cognitive function: criteria for validation and considerations for investigating the effects of foods and nutrients in ageing
Assessing the Impact of Nutrition on Children’s Cognition

The measurement of Diet-induced Changes in Cognition: Methodological Aspects

Recommendations for long-term nutritional intervention studies on cognitive function

Publications

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Multimedia

Nutrition and Brain Health Task Force – One-pager